In Elbert County, the name "Granite
Bowl" has grown to legendary status
as the home of the Blue Devils. It has become
the largest jewel in the crown of a community
known as the “Granite Capital of the
This is an historic year in the life of
the Bowl on College Avenue. The upcoming
2010 season marks the 57th season of Blue
Devil football in the Granite Bowl.
The site of the bowl was once a vast ravine
between the Elberton High School (located
where the Elbert County Middle School is
today) and the Elbert County Courthouse.
According to Lee Atkinson head coach of
the Blue Devils from 1948 to 1963, the area
was a forested area around a stream that
ran through town.
Granite Bowl Facts and Figures
* One of the most unique high school
football stadiums in the U.S.
* Seats over 15,000 fans
* Built in 1962 by Athletic Boosters and
the Granite Industry
* Made up of over 100,000 tons of Elberton
* Credit given to Ben Sutton, former City
of Elberton Parks Director
* Boosters led by Horace Harper and his
* Stadium made a reality by enlisting
equipment, materials, money and sweat
At that time, the Blue Devils home field
was on North McIntosh Street at the site
of the present-day Senior League Field.
Atkinson reported that the field was a
horrible place to play.
“You talk about a dust bowl,”
he said of the field. The dust was just
one of the problems, Atkinson stated that
lightning was not good on the field and
the surface became a quagmire after it
rained. The seats were there on a temporary
In fact, the high school had a long history
of having to play on inferior surfaces.
Atkinson reported that when he played
for the Devils in the late ‘30s
and early ‘40s, the team played
on a 90 yard field in front of the rock
gym. At that time, when a player was tackled
on the goal line, an official moved the
ball back 10 yards and the team had to
cover that distance again.
Local real estate salesman Ben Sutton
saw the two problems and decided to solve
both. He came up with the idea of cleaning
out the gully and putting in a football
“It wasn't a pretty field,”
Atkinson stated, reporting that grass
was spotty and rocks were scattered.
In addition, there was no seating on the
visitors’ side of the field, only
a huge wall built would keep dirt from
falling on the playing surface.
The seats on the home side were located
between the 30 yard lines and were only
about six rows deep.
The Score Board
One of the most anxiously awaited events
in local sports history is installation
of the new scoreboard in the Granite Bowl!
It was formerly in Sanford Stadium at
The University of Georgia until a new
scoreboard was erected when the stadium
was enclosed. Elberton Crane & Rigging
owned by Jack Stovall, contracted to take
down the old scoreboard and install the
new one. Mr. Stovall asked booster Horace
Harper if anyone could take the old scoreboard
and save transporting it to North Caroline
where Data Signs Systems was to use it
for scrap. Horace contacted Coach McFerrin
who arranged with Data Systems for the
scoreboard to used by ECCHS
However, problems arose almost immediately.
A cutting torch ignited bird nests inside
the structure, damaging wiring. Rains
delayed the pouring of 30 yards of concrete
footings to support the 15 ton board which
measures 36 x 22 ft. A week long power
outage at the ECCHS welding shop delayed
the welding of huge I-beams donated by
Whitlow Electric to mount the board. Then,
football camp opened, diverting Coach
On the plus side, work is expected to
proceed as quickly as possible...weather
permitting, and... Coach McFerrin has
praised the assistance from local citizens.
"I can't say enough about the contributions
of Horace Harper, Jack Stovall, Kenneth
Whitlow of Whitlow Electric, and Larry
Brady and his JTPA boys who did a lot
of work. Jack and Ken really advise on
wiring. "Anything will help,"
said McFerrin. "We don't have any
money left in the budget since we spent
$11,200 for new lighting and wiring in
the Granite Bowl.
Despite those hardships, neither players
nor spectators were complaining.
“We were proud to be there. We thought
we were big time, anyway,” Atkinson
remarked Shelvyn Gunter, a starting offensive
and defensive lineman on the 54’
squad, remembers a lot of noise and what
seemed like a large group of spectators.
“We are very excited,” he
Starting quarterback Larry Wilson had
to get over the sight of the new field.
“I was in awe of the stadium. The
stadium was huge,” he stated.
The first Blue Devil team to play in the
Granite Bowl lost the first game to Morgan
County by a score of 7-0, but that small
set-back did not discourage the Devil
faithful. Gate receipts totaled $900 for
Further construction on the Bowl progressed
slowly until 1958.
“It was kind of a piecemeal thing,”
In ’58, a group of boosters made
a final push to finish the job. Local
granite companies donated rock and heavy
equipment to the project and workers volunteered
Horace Harper and his brother, Tommy,
were two of the workers on the project.
Harper said that because of the steep
banking at the Bowl, heavy equipment was
needed, but even with that, there were
still problems to overcome.
“We had a lot of trouble with tracks
coming off of the bulldozer,’ he
The only expense in the new stadium came
with materials for the press box and concrete.
Everything else was volunteered or provided
“I admire those people. There was
a lot of hard work put into that place,”
Gunter said. “It was unheard of
to get the community together like that,”
Wilson stated. “No one person can
take credit for it.”
The structure was formally dedicated
before the 1961 season. Dedicated with
the stadium was a monument to the group
of boosters that finished Sutton’s
idea. Listed on the marker are:
Dr. Jack Adams
William F. Grant
Marvin L. Hooks
William A. Stafford
The impact of the Granite Bowl has gone
farther than just providing the Devils
with a very decided home field advantage.
“It’s like Stone Mountain
to Atlanta,” Wilson said.
“No one then, a very few now have
anything to compare it with,” Gunter
Harper said that the stadium gives a sense
of pride to the community, especially
to children. “Wanting to see something
better for your children” is why
Harper said the volunteers gave all of
their time and equipment to the project.
Of course, many changes have taken place
in the Bowl since then, but the pride
and uniqueness of the structure has never
worn out. It has been awe inspiring for
both Elbert Countians and visitors.
Gunter summed up the Granite Bowl mystique
by saying, “A lot of people just
enjoy coming there to play.”
**Special thanks goes to the Elberton
Granite Association for photos and information.